What if You Can’t Exercise

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Struggling with the fear of gaining weight because you can’t exercise? You’re not alone, and today we’re tackling this very personal issue head-on.

Let’s peel back the layers on what really happens to your body when you pause your fitness regimen. Will you lose muscle? Do you need to cut calories? The anxieties are endless, but the answers are finally here.

Ready to bust some myths and get real answers? Keep reading to uncover the truth about exercise interruptions and weight concerns. And don’t forget to tune into episode #1009 of The Chalene Show for an even deeper dive into this pressing topic.

Let’s get started!


When Exercise Isn’t an Option

This subject really hits home for me. Exercise has been a part of my life since I was a teen, but sometimes life throws you curveballs. Whether it’s an injury, illness, or just life getting in the way, there are times when our routines get messed up, and suddenly, we can’t work out. And that’s disorienting, to say the least. It’s like someone telling you that you can’t brush your teeth for a few days. Sounds minor, but the impact on your mental well-being is more significant than you’d think.

The Emotional Toll

For those of us for whom exercise is not just a physical act but a part of our identity, the inability to work out can be depressing. It’s your social circle, your daily ritual, your “me time,” and when that’s disrupted, it feels like a part of you is missing. I’ve been there. And each time, it forces me to dig deep and confront why I feel this way.

Through this emotional excavation, I discovered my fear of losing progress, muscle, and even my job—yes, my job. The fitness industry is cutthroat, and I feared that not being able to keep up physically would translate to being irrelevant or unworthy. Let’s be real; I was afraid that if I couldn’t exercise, I would lose my sense of self. Sounds melodramatic, but recognizing and acknowledging these fears has been instrumental in navigating these breaks from exercise.

The Silver Lining

There’s a certain mindset I adopt when facing setbacks: trusting that this is God’s intention for me. Yes, I have faith, and I lean on it especially when facing challenges. Each time I’ve been forced to take a break—whether due to broken ribs or a torn hamstring—I’ve realized it opened up room for something remarkable to happen in other areas of my life. If you’re in this situation, ask yourself what this downtime might be making space for in your own life.


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My Current Struggles

Right now, I’m grappling with an injury yet again. While in France, I did something to my “good leg” on a squat machine. For the past nine weeks, I’ve stubbornly tried to work through it, refusing to give it the rest it clearly needs. Yep, despite knowing better, I’ve still been walking on the treadmill and doing lower-body exercises. It just isn’t healing.

Now, add to that some serious shoulder pain thanks to a lot of travel and sleeping in different beds. To say my body is out of whack would be an understatement. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t even lift with one arm. So, now what? Ignore the obvious signs that I need a break? I’ve realized that someone or something is clearly telling me to pause and let my body heal.

Embracing the Break

Here’s the thing: as much as I dread it, I know I need to give my body a break. Maybe even two weeks off from lifting. And I’m sharing this with you because sometimes we all need that nudge to do what’s best for us, even if it feels like a step back.

The Weight of Exercise Expectations

We’ve all been brainwashed into thinking that we have to exercise every day or else we’ll turn into a “sloppy, flabby, melty mush pile of a waste of a human being.” Seriously, society has hammered this into our heads, making it difficult to cut ourselves some slack. It took me years to realize that I didn’t need to work myself to exhaustion to get results. I used to think if I wasn’t drenched in sweat, I hadn’t really worked out.


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The Surprising Benefits of Slowing Down

Guess what? Exercise creates oxidative stress in the body. Yep, working out too hard for too long can actually harm us more than help us. We are not meant for torture—err, I mean excessive training. Rest periods are when our bodies actually repair and grow muscle tissue. So, taking a few days off won’t make you gain weight. Our bodies are smart; they have this thing called homeostasis that keeps us relatively stable.

It might sound counterintuitive, but taking one or two days off from your regular exercise regimen can actually improve your performance and body composition. Yeah, you heard it right: REST is crucial. Trust me; your metabolism will thank you.

The Scale vs. Reality: Understanding Temporary Weight Changes

Often, when people take a short break from exercise, they actually lose weight. It’s due to the reduction of glycogen and inflammation in our bodies. You might feel a bit mushy, but that’s not because you’re losing muscle; it’s because you’re less inflamed. So, stop worrying about the number on the scale; it’s not the end-all, be-all of your worth or your health.

Eat Your Way to Well-Being Without Exercise

Okay, we’re shifting gears here, but it’s super relevant. If you’re not burning calories through exercise, it might be time to reassess your “maintenance calories.” Now, I know it’s not all about calories; it’s about the type of food you’re eating too. Some people have found success with GLP-1 drugs like Ozempic, mainly because these drugs make them less interested in food. But before you go down that road, make sure you’ve got the basics covered.


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What’s Next for Your Journey

Remember, it’s okay to break free from the “exercise or bust” mindset. Listen to your body; it knows what it’s doing.

The Chalene Show podcast cover art

And now that you’ve read this, you might want to check out Episode 1009 of The Chalene Show, where I dive even deeper into this topic. Listen here.

For those of you who are visual learners, you can watch this discussion on YouTube. While you’re there, you might want to check out related videos like the Mouth Taping Update and Chalene’s Weekly Workout Routine.

Until next time, peace, love, and wellness!


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